Rarely has there been such a passive gameplay experience with as prolific a story as Loop Hero, the newest indie gem from Four Quarters and Devolver Digital. In Loop Hero, you’ll play as a hero tasked with rebuilding and restoring the memories of a world thrown into darkness by the evil Lich. The idle nature of gameplay and resource gathering mechanics make for an engaging surprise hit.
As the hero, you’ll be walking an endless loop-like path on autopilot, with the ability to pause the action at any given time. Otherwise your character continues to walk–but when encountering enemies, Loop Hero turns into an RPG style turned based fight. With everything automatically happening, the real interactivity comes in the form of looting and world building. Loot is gathered via combat, with weapons and armor bringing stats, like increased defense or traits such as health regeneration. Combining and upgrading is important, as enemy difficulty and spawn rate will increase the longer you circle the path. Each full loop gets you more health and a reset of enemies while a day/night cycle also plays into regenerating health and enemies.
Battles also reward cards that have different world pieces such as woods, mountains, cemeteries and dozens of others. These cards are placed on the map within the loop or on outside segments. Cards, like the woods or mountains. will get you resources to be used later depending on placement. Proper placement rewards better resources but isn’t always possible. Other locales like cemeteries, or mansions add more spawning enemies to the board. This increases difficulty but also rewards better loot, so it pays to keep the difficulty ramping up without overwhelming yourself. It’s easy to spawn too many forest tiles and be swarmed by spiders, but there’s also the risk of only spawning resource tiles and reaching the end of the stage’s final boss with poor gear options. It’s a balancing act that Loop Hero threads nicely.
The boss encounters are triggered by placing enough cards to fill the world building meter. Once it’s filled the boss is revealed on the path. These confrontations play out like any other enemy but are more tense, as they hit harder and take more damage. The real threat is that you can lose the resources you’ve spent so much time collecting in your run. These are used to return back to the town and rebuild. Building up the shops equates to better loot drops, health potions, and new combat maneuvers. This makes the runs more dangerous. When you’ve got a bag packed full of resources and are staring down a path full of enemies, it’s a debate on whether to continue or not.
Loop Hero’s introduction brings a brief info dump of the universe at large. A darkness has engulfed everything, taking over and creating a deep void. The last planet left is Earth and it’s in the process of being swallowed up. People who are trapped by the void lose all memories, drifting into nothingness. The unnamed hero enters with a very brief memory and the ability to rebuild the world (though every time he goes to town it all resets in the void anyways.) This is where you come in. Fight your way through the void, rebuilding the world and defeating the Lich demons responsible for the void. The artwork here is reminiscent of the 8-bit/16-bit era with the tile placement looking like the old Command & Conquer maps. There are interstitial conversations that occur within certain events such as a new enemy appearing. These are punctuated with old style animated character portraits that give the cast life and personality. The back and forth conversations break up the passive gameplay with humorous dialogue. One key moment occurred when a new enemy appeared and the hero quipped “I don’t remember not remembering you,” a subtle joke on the amnesia plot. The writing is clever and light, and it helps to break up any tedium.
Loop Hero spins a tale of intergalactic demons erasing existence within an idle game framework. There’s a balance between passive play and tense moments mixed in with humorous writing and strategy. There’s a lot to like about a short burst game that also includes deeper systems at its core. While the game feels laidback, it provides a satisfying progression that’s engaging and fun. And even though the loop seemed endless, I always wanted more.
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